Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review: A Viking quest worth sinking your axe into

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 7:22am
In <em>Assassin's Creed Valhalla</em>, Eivor reps the Raven Clan while storming 9th-century England the only way a Viking knows how: By swinging axes, making pals, and drinking mead.

Enlarge / In Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Eivor reps the Raven Clan while storming 9th-century England the only way a Viking knows how: By swinging axes, making pals, and drinking mead. (credit: Ubisoft)

Before I go into everything about Assassin's Creed Valhalla—the writing, the action, the open-world jank—I want to offer an unusual preface. Basically: Gosh, I like this game.

It's a rare earnest turn for me, especially when I'm talking about open-world Ubisoft games. I try to find a fair-and-balanced way to talk about their hours of gameplay, and I respect the heck out of how their multi-studio teams slam together so many moving parts into a giant, playable romp. But personally, I can get bored with them—same fetch quests, same ho-hum mechanics and checklists, year after year. After playing only a few hours of these games, I feel less like an adventurer and more like an errand boy or girl. None of their high-end rendering or historical references can change that feeling.

Yet the Assassin's Creed series has been evolving into AC Valhalla's shape for some time, which we last saw from the character-driven surprise of 2018's AC Odyssey. This year's model is undeniably messy and imperfect, and it doesn't surpass Ghost of Tsushima as my favorite open-world romp so far this year. But it earns my recommendation for getting enough things right—and doing so with more nuance than a phrase like "a more RPG-like Assassin's Creed" implies.

Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

iPad Air 2020 review: Semi-pro

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 5:50am

For a long, long time, most of Apple's iPads looked fundamentally the same. They all had a home button, they all had a similar aesthetic, and they all had similar screen-to-body ratios, with some minor variation over time. All of that changed in 2018 with the overhauled iPad Pro, and that design has since carried over across the majority of Apple's recently released mobile devices, from the iPhone 12 to the iPad Air.

Today, we're going to give the new iPad Air a quick review.

The Air incorporates Apple's latest processor (the A14), which is also seen in the iPhone 12. And it adopts the general aesthetic and language of the iPad Pro, sans Face ID. The base price of the iPad Air is up from that of its predecessor, but you're arguably getting a much more modern device for it.

Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Explaining foam in the absence of soap: It’s a tension gradient

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 5:15am
Image of a glass of beer.

Enlarge (credit: Puamelia/ Flickr)

Foaming is nature’s way of making beer even more delicious. Yet not all foams are understood because they don’t seem to obey the model that explains most of the rest. Understanding these atypical foams is important, because they often apply in the food-processing and petrochemical industries. So having a new paper that tells us what allows these foams to survive may be of more than academic interest.

Foaming with cause

Foams and froths form when two different liquids are mixed with a gas such as air. But not all liquid combinations will allow a foam to form, no matter how hard you beat it—I’m looking at you, experimental dark chocolate meringues. While a foam is actually a rather complex beast, the basic physics is not too difficult.

A foam is basically a set of air bubbles, enclosed by thin films that form a self-supporting network. The thin films are subject to two competing forces. The liquid trapped in the interface slowly drains away due to gravity. This causes the layer enclosing the air to thin, which will lead to the eventual collapse of the foam. But the loss of fluid is often slowed (or even entirely prevented) by two factors.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Europa probably glows in the dark, and that may tell us what’s in it

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 4:45am
A spacecraft flies over a moon.

Enlarge / An early design of the Europa Clipper spacecraft. (credit: NASA)

If everything goes according to plan, 2024 will see NASA launch the Europa Clipper program, which is designed to make multiple passes to study the water-rich moon's potential to host life. The big challenge the mission will face is that any liquid water is likely to be far below Europa's icy surface. At best, we can hope for some indication of what's going on based on the composition of any material trapped in the ice itself or the possible presence of geysers that release bits of its interior to space.

That makes understanding the sorts of remote sensing that might be possible critical. And, to that end, some NASA scientists have looked into how ice behaves in Jupiter's high-radiation environment. The scientists found out that Europa's ice probably glows in the dark, and that glow may carry some information about what's present in the ice.

Let there be light

The mechanism that can make Europa's ice glow is a bit like what's used by a black light poster. There, light outside of the visible wavelengths excites molecules that then release the energy at wavelengths we can see. In the case of Europa, the excitation energy doesn't come from light, but that energy is indirectly powered by Jupiter's magnetic fields. These fields pick up charged particles liberated by the planet itself (or one of its moons) and accelerate them. (Much of the material in Jupiter's high-radiation areas was expelled into space by volcanoes on its moon Io.)

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nikola has $900 million in the bank, lost $117 million last quarter

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 9:00pm
The Nikola Tre semi truck.

Enlarge / The Nikola Tre semi truck. (credit: Nikola)

Electric truck-maker Nikola was widely ridiculed in September when a short-selling firm revealed that its first truck, the Nikola One, never worked. A promotional video of the truck "in motion" actually showed the vehicle rolling down a hill.

But the company's latest quarterly financial results, released Monday, show that Nikola has something it didn't have in 2016: truckloads of cash. Specifically, Nikola has $900 million in the bank—most of it raised when the company went public back in June.

Nikola says it spent $117 million in the third quarter of 2020 while bringing in no revenue. The losses were smaller than some analysts had expected, and investors reacted positively to the results, sending Nikola's stock price up by 2 percent in after-hours trading.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Relativity’s 3D-printed engine has completed a mission duty cycle test-firing

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 3:18pm

Full-duration test of Aeon 1 rocket engine.

Relativity Space said Monday that the company has successfully completed a full-duration test-firing of its Aeon 1 rocket engine, running it at full power for 187 seconds.

The test at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi took place with all of the engine's key components—including turbopumps, injector, and combustion chamber—operating in a flight-like configuration. Surprisingly, the company met this milestone ahead of schedule—Relativity had been targeting completion of this mission duty cycle test before the end of 2020.

"Despite the coronavirus, we're on track," said Relativity's chief executive, Tim Ellis, in an interview. "The mission-duty-cycle engine test is actually two months ahead of schedule. So I think it really demonstrates how the 3D-printing approach to building a rocket is lightning fast."

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Coronavirus outbreak at White House grows as US tops 10 million cases

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 2:38pm
A man in a suit speaks at a podium.

Enlarge / US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Nicholas Kamm)

The United States surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases Monday as yet another cluster within the White House grew to at least eight.

Ben Carson, a 69-year-old neurosurgeon and the current secretary of housing and urban development, tested positive for the virus early Monday. This afternoon, news broke that David Bossie, one of President Donald Trump’s advisors, is also infected with the pandemic virus and tested positive Sunday.

The two new positive cases connected to Trump and the White House follow reports late Friday of six cases in the White House, including Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Trump campaign advisor Nick Trainer, and four unnamed aides. Meadows reportedly told staff he had tested positive last Wednesday.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

TikTok users troll Trump “voter fraud” reporting hotline en masse

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 1:19pm
 the full "prank call the president's campaign" kit.

Enlarge / A phone, earbuds, a pen, and a laptop: the full "prank call the president's campaign" kit. (credit: Mateusz Slodkowski | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

If you've turned on a radio, television, or Internet-connected device since last Monday, you've probably heard that there was a federal election in the United States this past week. After waiting through four days of election officials nationwide working to tally up ballots as fast as they could, all major media outlets on Saturday agreed that the Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, won the election, paving the path for him to be sworn in as our 46th president in January.

One key figure, however, has yet to accept the outcome: the loser of the race, incumbent President Donald Trump. Trump made clear in September that he had no intent of conceding should he lose the election. He has followed through on that threat, filing a dozen lawsuits in at least five states so far, making baseless allegations of fraud and seeking to have ballots thrown out or recounted.

As part of this effort, Trump administration officials and their allies, such as the president's adult sons, took to social media asking anyone with suspicions or evidence of voter fraud to call a specific hotline number. The Internet has responded to the existence of this hotline exactly as one might expect: with maximum trolling.

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Zoom lied to users about end-to-end encryption for years, FTC says

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 12:27pm
Zoom founder Eric Yuan speaking at Nasdaq.

Enlarge / Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019, in New York City as the company announced its IPO. (credit: Getty Images | Kena Betancur )

Zoom has agreed to upgrade its security practices in a tentative settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which alleges that Zoom lied to users for years by claiming it offered end-to-end encryption.

"[S]ince at least 2016, Zoom misled users by touting that it offered 'end-to-end, 256-bit encryption' to secure users' communications, when in fact it provided a lower level of security," the FTC said today in the announcement of its complaint against Zoom and the tentative settlement. Despite promising end-to-end encryption, the FTC said that "Zoom maintained the cryptographic keys that could allow Zoom to access the content of its customers' meetings, and secured its Zoom Meetings, in part, with a lower level of encryption than promised."

The FTC complaint says that Zoom claimed it offers end-to-end encryption in its June 2016 and July 2017 HIPAA compliance guides, which were intended for health-care industry users of the video conferencing service. Zoom also claimed it offered end-to-end encryption in a January 2019 white paper, in an April 2017 blog post, and in direct responses to inquiries from customers and potential customers, the complaint said.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Pfizer’s positive vaccine news

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 9:44am
A woman wears a facemask as she walks by the Pfizer world headquarters in New York on November 9, 2020.

Enlarge / A woman wears a facemask as she walks by the Pfizer world headquarters in New York on November 9, 2020. (credit: Getty | KENA BETANCUR )

An experimental mRNA coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech appeared to be more than 90-percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 cases in an interim analysis of their large Phase III clinical trial.

The two companies reported the top-line results of the analysis in a press release early Monday but have not yet published or released detailed data from the trial.

The companies said that they could file for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration in the third week of November. That’s the point at which the companies will have a median of two months of safety monitoring data on trial participants, a milestone specified by the FDA—at the objection of the Trump administration.

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Apple supplier Pegatron found using illegal student labor in China

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 9:41am
Employees line up for row call before their shift starts at a Pegatron Corp. factory in Shanghai, China, on Friday, April 15, 2016.

Enlarge / Employees line up for row call before their shift starts at a Pegatron Corp. factory in Shanghai, China, on Friday, April 15, 2016.

Apple has reprimanded one of its largest manufacturers after a Financial Times investigation found that thousands of student interns had worked overtime to assemble iPhones, in breach of Chinese law.

After being contacted by the FT, Apple said it had stopped giving “new business” to Pegatron, its second-largest iPhone assembler after Foxconn. However, workers there said the factory was still manufacturing new products ahead of the holidays.

Apple is racing to make up for production delays earlier in the year caused by the pandemic. The latest revelations of supply chain abuses will come as an embarrassment to the company during its busiest season for new product launches in years. The latest iPhone 12 models are set to go on sale on Friday, two months later than normal. At an event on Tuesday, Apple is also expected to reveal new Mac computers.

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Sorry, you can’t move your discontinued copy of PT to the PS5

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 9:08am
<em>PT</em> scenes like this will not be viewable on the PS5, even though they were briefly during the prerelease period.

Enlarge / PT scenes like this will not be viewable on the PS5, even though they were briefly during the prerelease period.

Remember PT? The free "playable trailer" was released for the PS4 back in 2014 to promote a Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro-led Silent Hill sequel featuring Norman Reedus. But when that project was cancelled in 2015, the demo was removed from the PlayStation Store, even as a redownload.

That means the short horror demo is now only playable on some of the 1 million or so PS4 systems that downloaded it before the discontinuation. Those units have sold for heavily inflated prices on eBay as the hard-to-access demo has achieved cult classic status among horror game fans.

In the lead-up to the PS5's launch this week, there was some speculation that those trapped demos could be freed from their PS4 prisons via transfer to a backward-compatible PS5. Now, though, multiple outlets have confirmed that the game can't be moved from a PS4 to a PS5. When you try through the system's App Transfer menu, you simply get a message saying, "You can't use this PS4 game or app on the PS5."

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Meet Launcher, the rocket engine builder with just eight employees

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 7:40am

Max Haot is not your typical rocket scientist, and Launcher is not your typical rocket company.

To be fair, Haot really isn't a rocket scientist at all. He's more of a video and technology guy, starting his career in the late 1990s by running digital operations for IMG Media and later founding Livestream. He had always maintained a deep interest in space, however, and by 2017 when he began to look around for something else to do, he returned to those dreams.

Haot viewed the opening of the cosmos as an epochal event in human history. "Ultimately think if humans will be around in 10,000 years, the most important events will be Sputnik and the Moon landings," he said. "I wanted to contribute to that."

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Mortal’s brooding take on Thor is the antithesis to Marvel’s incarnation

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:49am

Nat Wolff stars in Mortal, a new fantasy action film inspired by Norse mythology.

A young American man hiking through Norway's countryside just might be the modern incarnation of the Norse god Thor in Mortal, an intriguing new film from Norwegian Director André Øvredal. This is definitely not Marvel's version of Thor, and while it shares a basic premise with the recent Netflix YA drama Ragnarok, both visually and tonally, it's a very different beast.

American actor and singer Nat Wolff stars as Eric, whom we first meet walking through the woods of the island of Askøy, near Bergen. He dreams of a fire breaking out and finds that the fire is real when he awakens—and that he has an odd, painful wound on his ankle. Limping into town for provisions, he is confronted by local teenagers, one of whom mysteriously collapses and dies just from touching Eric. This brings him into police custody, where he meets a young psychologist named Christine (Iben Arkelie). She discovers that he has unusual electromagnetic powers that tend to run out of control whenever Eric's stress and anxiety ramp up—which, alas, is quite often, given his circumstances. Christine seeks to help him control it; a US Embassy rep named Hathaway (Priyanka Bose) wants to control Eric, and if she can't—well, she'll just have to take him out (or try).

As a filmmaker with a foot in both Hollywood and his native Norway, Øvredal also brought us last year's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (adapted from the series of children's books from the 1980s by the late amateur folklorist Alvin Schwartz) and the 2010 dark fantasy/mockumentary Trollhunter. (It's fantastic, if you haven't seen it.) Next he'll be adapting Stephen King's 1979 dystopian horror novel, The Long Walk (as always, coronavirus willing). We sat down with Øvredal to learn more about the process of making Mortal.

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Pixel 5 review: Google spends its bill-of-materials budget unwisely

ArsTechnica - Mon, 11/09/2020 - 5:30am

Google's flagship smartphone for 2020, the Pixel 5, is definitely a departure from previous releases. The company has opted out of the ultrapremium flagship wars that have led to smartphone prices rocketing past the $1,000 price point, and instead, it's turning in a midrange, $700 Snapdragon 765 phone as its highest-end device. On one hand, I appreciate the pushback on the $1,000 smartphone price tag, especially in the middle of a pandemic depressed economy. On the other hand, Google has always had trouble competing with the rest of the market when it comes to value for your dollar, and that's just as true in the upper-midrange market as it was in the flagship market—there are better deals out there.

Some history

As we've said in previous Pixel reviews, it's hard to know what exactly Google's goal is supposed to be with the Pixel line, and it doesn't seem like Google is sticking with too much of a long-term plan, either. After the death of the value-oriented Nexus line and a ho-hum Pixel 1 launch, Google Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh told the world "Pixel stays premium" in 2017, indicating a return to cheaper phones wouldn't happen. In 2019, the company went back on that and released the Pixel 3a, a midrange $400 phone. Now, in 2020, even the most expensive Pixel isn't premium anymore. The Pixel 5 is also a midrange smartphone, and that means it doesn't feel all that much different from the Pixel 4a.

Originally, the Pixel was a premium phone because it was supposed to be Google's iPhone killer, so what is it now? The move downmarket seems like an admission the company can't—or doesn't want to—compete in the cutthroat premium-smartphone market. Other than Apple, the rest of the Pixel's competitors are also Google's Android customer base. Google has never shown an interest in playing hardball with them, and so the Pixel line has only ever looked like a small "hobby" side project. This conflict of interest has meant the Pixel phones have almost always been "good software with hardware that isn't quite competitive," and that remains just as true in the upper midrange market as it was in the premium-smartphone market. Moving downmarket a bit doesn't put Google any closer to the competition. The Pixel line used to be aspirational, but there's nothing unique about the phone this year in terms of new features. So more than anything, the Pixel 5 feels like Google is taking the year off.

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Alex Trebek, 1940-2020

ArsTechnica - Sun, 11/08/2020 - 10:51am
Alex Trebek, seen here hosting a themed Jeopardy tournament in January 2020—and while the tournament's name was about high-performing contestants from the series' past, today, we are going to say that it's specifically about Trebek himself.

Enlarge / Alex Trebek, seen here hosting a themed Jeopardy tournament in January 2020—and while the tournament's name was about high-performing contestants from the series' past, today, we are going to say that it's specifically about Trebek himself. (credit: Getty Images)

The staff of long-running TV game show Jeopardy confirmed on Sunday that its beloved host Alex Trebek has passed away. He was 80 years old.

While the announcement did not go into details, other than confirming he passed on Sunday in the presence of family and friends, Trebek had previously been transparent with fans about his stage-four pancreatic cancer diagnosis, using YouTube to tell fans directly about the news in March 2019. At the time, he said he chose to speak to fans via YouTube "to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports."

Since then, Trebek went on to continue hosting the series between rounds of treatment, posting regular updates to Jeopardy's YouTube account. The last such message came in July of this year, which confirmed that the show's regular production had been put on hold due to COVID-19 precautions. This allowed him, among other things, to write a memoir that came out shortly after that last YouTube message: The Answer is... Reflections on my Life.

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Carmakers want to ditch battery packs, use auto bodies for energy storage

ArsTechnica - Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:15am
A stylized image of an automobile.

Enlarge (credit: Viaframe / Getty Images)

Elon Musk made a lot of promises during Tesla’s Battery Day last September. Soon, he said, the company would have a car that runs on batteries with pure silicon anodes to boost their performance and reduced cobalt in the cathodes to lower their price. Its battery pack will be integrated into the chassis so that it provides mechanical support in addition to energy, a design that Musk claimed will reduce the car’s weight by 10 percent and improve its mileage by even more. He hailed Tesla’s structural battery as a “revolution” in engineering—but for some battery researchers, Musk’s future looked a lot like the past.

“He’s essentially doing something that we did 10 years ago,” says Emile Greenhalgh, a materials scientist at Imperial College London and the engineering chair in emerging technologies at the Royal Academy. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on structural batteries, an approach to energy storage that erases the boundary between the battery and the object it powers. “What we’re doing is going beyond what Elon Musk has been talking about,” Greenhalgh says. “There are no embedded batteries. The material itself is the energy storage device.”

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New coronavirus outbreak in Trump White House as Biden celebrates victory

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/07/2020 - 1:52pm
President-elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, delivers remarks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 6, 2020.

Enlarge / President-elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, delivers remarks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 6, 2020. (credit: Getty | Angela Weiss)

As President-elect Joe Biden celebrates reports of his victory in a historic election, his incoming administration is facing the daunting task of getting the raging coronavirus pandemic under control—and so far, his team is wasting no time in laying ground work.

“We’re not waiting to get the work done,” Biden said in a speech on Friday night. As Biden spoke, the national tally for the day’s new coronavirus cases smashed yet another record, the third in a row.

Daily new cases were over 125,500 on Friday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. The last peak in the pandemic in July saw daily case reports no higher than around 76,500. It’s unclear how high the current rise in cases will go. Public health experts expect the surge to worsen as cold weather drives more people indoors, where transmission risks increase, and people will be tempted to hold gatherings for upcoming holidays.

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Weekend eye candy: The new supercar exhibit at the Petersen Museum

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/07/2020 - 12:45pm

Identifying the world's first supercar is harder than it sounds. The problem—to me at least—is that there's no universally agreed-upon definition of what a supercar actually is. If you'd asked me yesterday I'd have probably said Lamborghini—when it introduced the Miura in 1966.

Its body was dramatically styled by Gandini, writing checks that the mid-mounted V12 could definitely cash, sending notice to establishment names like Ferrari that the game had been changed forever. But my answer might be 50 years too late, according to a new exhibit at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

It's called Supercars: A Century of Spectacle and Speed, and our friends at the museum—which was just named Museum of the year by The Historic Motoring Awards—were kind enough to send over photos of some of the cars in the new exhibit. And that's as much excuse as I need to put together a gallery to give people something to click through this fine November Saturday.

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BioWare confirms Mass Effect remaster in 2021, new Mass Effect later

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/07/2020 - 9:03am
BioWare confirms Mass Effect remaster in 2021, new Mass Effect later

Enlarge (credit: BioWare)

BioWare today confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in video games: an HD remaster of the Mass Effect trilogy will be coming to Xbox and PlayStation consoles, as well as PC, in 2021. The company also surprised fans, however, by announcing that an all-new Mass Effect game is additionally in the works.

BioWare General Manager Casey Hudson revealed the news in a post on the BioWare Blog this morning.

"We really struggled to keep this one a surprise," Hudson admitted, "But now it's official: today we announced the Mass Effect Legendary Edition!"

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